Travel Health

Chair on a beach against a gulf and clouds

By: Alyssa Vosecky, PHC, PharmD Candidate Class of 2017, The University of Iowa College of Pharmacy

Are you planning on traveling out of the country this year? You may be setting up plans for flights, hotels, and must see destination spots. Have you been setting up appointments for your travel vaccines? Every country has different exposures to different types of diseases. It is important to keep yourself informed and healthy for your great adventure.

Your local NuCara pharmacist is able to research your destination and provide a list of recommended vaccines and travel precautions. It is important to keep yourself informed about the health precautions that are in the area you will be visiting.

YELLOW FEVER: Yellow fever is a virus that is transmitted by mosquitos found in tropical areas especially in South American and Africa. Symptoms include mild fever to severe liver disease. Treatment for yellow fever has not been well established, but there are established preventative measures. The yellow fever vaccine that can be given at designated vaccination centers. Most people find that 1 vaccine is good for lifetime without a booster, however it has been found that some people require a booster vaccine to maintain immunity.

TYPHOID: Typhoid is a bacterial disease that causes high fever, fatigue, stomach pains, and loss of appetite. It is transmitted by contaminated water and food. It can kill up to 30% of people who contract the infection. The typhoid vaccine can be given as an oral capsule. It is taken every other day for a week and must be kept refrigerated. This course should be taken at least 1 week prior to travel and should be boosted every 5 years in the common traveler.

Tdap: Tdap is more commonly known as the tetanus shot. Tdap vaccinates against 3 different diseases. Tetanus (T) is also known as lockjaw. The infection causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness. It is spread through cuts and scratches. Diphtheria (d) is an infection that causes a thick coating of mucus in the back of the throat. This leads to breathing problems and can lead to heart failure.  Pertussis (ap), also known as whooping cough, causes severe coughing spells and difficulty breathing. Both diphtheria and pertussis are spread via secretions while coughing or sneezing. Tdap should be given at least once, and a Td booster should be given every 10 years.

HEPATITIS A: Hepatitis A is a virus that infects the liver. The virus can contaminate food or water. People may contract the disease by eating or drinking the contaminated food and water. It is also transmitted person to person by fecal oral route. This disease is self-limiting and does not result in chronic liver infection. Up to 80% of those infected have symptoms including nausea and vomiting for about 2 weeks. The hepatitis A vaccine only needs to be given once.

Along with vaccinations, other precautions can be used in preventing diseases transferred by mosquitoes and other insects. Long clothing that covers the arms and legs can prevent insects from coming in contact with the skin. DEET is the active ingredient in most bug sprays. It is important to purchase a spray that contains at least 70% DEET.

Traveler’s diarrhea and malaria prophylaxis can be determined by a pharmacist who is working with a physician. You may need to visit a travel clinic in order to obtain these medications. Keep yourself informed and keep yourself safe during your trip.


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